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Virginia teacher shot by 6-yr-old student sues school leaders for $40 mln

2023-04-03T18:00:51Z

A Virginia teacher shot by a 6-year-old student on Monday sued school administrators for $40 million, alleging they ignored warnings from staff and pupils that the boy had a gun.

The Jan. 6 attack on Abigail Zwerner in Newport News was unusual among U.S. school shootings given the young age of the assailant and the fact police said the boy shot his first-grade teacher on purpose.

The complaint said Richneck Elementary School Assistant Principal Ebony Parker failed in her duty to protect Zwerner despite multiple reports a firearm was on school property and likely in the boy’s possession.

Parker could not immediately be reached for comment. She resigned after the shooting.

Also named as defendants were the Newport News School Board, former schools superintendent George Parker, whom the board fired after the shooting, and former Richneck principal Briana Foster Newton, who was assigned another role in the district.

Zwerner said school leaders knew of the student’s history of attacks on pupils and teachers and allowed the boy to return to Richneck in 2022 after he was removed for violent behavior.

School officials have confirmed that they received warnings that the boy had a gun at school, but that a search of his belongings before the shooting did not turn up any weapon.

A Newport News Public Schools spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Lawyers for Parker and Foster could not immediately be reached for comment.

The 25-year-old teacher was hailed a hero by police for evacuating students from her classroom after the boy shot her once with a handgun he brought from home, injuring her in the hand and chest.

A Virginia prosecutor said he would not seek charges against the boy but legal experts have said the boy’s mother could be held liable if it were found she did not properly secure the weapon in her home.

The boy’s family said in a statement the handgun he used “was secured” at home, that he suffers from an “acute disability,” and under a school care plan, one of his parents went to classes with him each day.

The week of the shooting was the first when neither parent was with him in class, the statement said.

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